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A Seder Plate for Rosh HaShannah? (It’s not just for Passover!)

A Seder Plate for Rosh HaShannah? (It's not just for Passover!)
Did you know that in some Sephardic homes there is the custom of presenting a special Seder plate before the Rosh HaShanna meal, just like one does for the Passover Seder? Eight symbolic foods (Simanim) are selected and arranged on a platter to ensure a happy, healthy, and prosperous ...

A Sephardic/Judeo-Arabic Seder

A Sephardic/Judeo-Arabic Seder
With the majority of Jews in the United States being of Ashkenazic or Eastern European descent, there is a specific interest in the ways that Sephardic Jews (those descending from Spain) and Middle Eastern Jews (those with a long history ...

A Tu b’Shevat Seder: Time to Honor Israel’s 7 Fruits

A Tu b'Shevat Seder: Time to Honor Israel's 7 Fruits
Today is Tu B'shevat, the Jewish holiday celebrating the new year of the tree in Israel, marking the beginning of its fruit bearing cycle. In order to connect us to nature (and Israel) it is customary to incorporate 7 specific fruits and grains that represent the ...

Afgani Proverb: “Be Content with Such Things as You Have.”

Afgani Proverb: "Be Content with Such Things as You Have."
During my ongoing research into the Central Asian Jewish community I came across this supposedly well-known Afghani proverb mentioned in several sites: If there is only bread and onions, still have a happy face. The meaning?: "Be content with such ...

Ajeel: Iranian “Trail Mix”

Ajeel: Iranian "Trail Mix"
Dried fruit and nuts are among some of the most important ingredients used during the Passover holiday. Usually some kind of dried fruit (such as raisins, dates, apricots, or figs) is blended with a variety of nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, or pistachios) ...

Albóndigas and the Sephardic Meatball

Albóndigas and the Sephardic Meatball
Meatball dishes are popular in many cuisines around the world and some of the earliest recordings of meatball recipes can be found in Arabic cookbooks dating back to medieval times. During the period of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula ...

Are we ready for a Thanksgiving Seder plate?

Are we ready for a Thanksgiving Seder plate?
As I continue to work on my Passover cookbook, I am struck by certain parallels between Passover and Thanksgiving. Just as Thanksgiving is the most popular holiday enjoyed in the United States by Americans of all backgrounds (a billion-dollar industry with thousands ...

Chapter by Chapter: The Jews of Bukharia and Afghanistan

Chapter by Chapter: The Jews of Bukharia and Afghanistan
In this week's Passover chapter, I am focusing on the Jewish community from Afghanistan and Bukharia (located today in the southwestern part of Uzbekistan). This is especially interesting to me because I know so little about this community. I also ...

Chummus or Chametz?

Chummus or Chametz?
Many ingredients that are innately kosher the rest of the year, may not be considered kosher during Passover week. While certain foods (such as pasta, cereals, breads, and pastries) are more obviously considered chametz (forbidden) for all, the restrictions for ...

Cleansing your sins for Passover? It’s time to start preparing.

Cleansing your sins for Passover? It's time to start preparing.
"My mother never wanted a cleaning lady to help (for Passover) because she believed that wherever you were cleaning your chametz, you were also cleaning your avonot — your sins. She used to tell my older sister who was not yet married, ‘Clean more, ...

Did You Know? New Passover dishes in Ethiopia

Did You Know? New Passover dishes in Ethiopia
Did you know that in Ethiopia it is the custom every Passover to break all the old ceramic dishes from the previous year and replace them with brand new ones for the upcoming Seder? These dishes (including bowls, cups, and even ...

Did you know?: The Iranian tradition of covering the table during the Plagues

Did you know?: The Iranian tradition of covering the table during the Plagues
Did you know that in Iran it is often the tradition during the recitation of the Ten Plagues to shield the Seder foods and table by covering it with a big white tablecloth? Some also stand up and hold it over ...

Did you know?: The Libyan Seder Basket

Did you know?: The Libyan Seder Basket
Did you know that not every community uses a Seder plate? The Libyans instead place large portions of each symbolic food into a large basket-like tray with handles called a Sabadj ...

Did you know?: The myth that ALL Sephardim eat rice.

Did you know?: The myth that ALL Sephardim eat rice.
Did you know that some of the most Sephardic of Sephardim simply do not eat rice at all during Pesach? Yes, it's true! Recently I interviewed a woman (thank you FaceTime!) straight from her Gibraltar apartment who informed me that ...

Egyptian Take-Out: The Seder ceremonial plate (for those on the go…)

Egyptian Take-Out: The Seder ceremonial plate (for those on the go...)
The story goes that while fleeing the land of Egypt, the ancient Israelites didn't have time to wait for their dough to rise, which in turn created the first matzah. Every year for the Seder, we serve this matzah, alongside ...

Four Generations Come Together for Algerian Boulettes with Green Peas

Four Generations Come Together for Algerian Boulettes with Green Peas
Each spring, Ginette Cohen would pack her suitcase with quatre épices and a box of Spigol spice packets, and fly from France to New York City to visit her grandson David Rak for his birthday. In his tiny Harlem kitchen, ...

Henna: Hametz for Passover?

Henna: Hametz for Passover?
Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Noam Sienna about his research and discoveries regarding henna in the Middle East and Mediterranean, and he shared some interesting things about the practice in the Jewish communities with regards to Passover: “In Jewish ...

In “Jewish Week,” this week!

In "Jewish Week," this week!
Please check out yesterday's article about me and Sephardic cooking by Caroline Lagnado! JEWISH WEEK: The Memory is in their Taste Buds http://www.thejewishweek.com/special-sections/sephardim-new-york/memory-their-taste-buds ...

It’s Recipe Testing Time! A dinner party where everyone else does the cooking.

It's Recipe Testing Time! A dinner party where everyone else does the cooking.
It's the season for recipe testing for my Passover cookbook, and as I did with my first cookbook (A Fistful of Lentils) I have decided to distribute various recipes to friends, acquaintances, family members, and willing participants to see how ...

Last Search for Chametz: Feather, Wooden Spoon, or Knife?

Last Search for Chametz: Feather, Wooden Spoon, or Knife?
As the first Seder approaches tomorrow night at sundown, it is the tradition in many homes to follow the ritual of b'dikat chametz (Hebrew for, "search for chametz") to find and discard those very last crumbs considered forbidden during Passover ...

Lenore’s Pre-Passover Seder on St. Patty’s Day: Four leaf clovers instead of parsley?

Lenore's Pre-Passover Seder on St. Patty's Day: Four leaf clovers instead of parsley?
Passover orders are rolling in and I wonder (as I do every year) how I will manage to do all of the shopping and cooking for just two big days. I have already started to prepare some things for my ...

Little Georgia at the Crossroads of Rego Park and Forest Hills, Queens

Little Georgia at the Crossroads of Rego Park and Forest Hills, Queens
This past April it dawned on me that I hadn't even thought of creating a chapter on Georgian Jews for my Passover cookbook. Why? For some reason I thought that both historically and culturally Georgia would be more like Eastern Europe, ...

Matzolah and Gefilte Fish Gummies?

Matzolah and Gefilte Fish Gummies?
I know that none of these Passover-friendly products are traditional in any way, much less Sephardic, but in the weeks leading up to Passover I thought it an interesting thing to point out since it shows how popular and commercially ...

Minas, Meginas, and Maienas: The Quintessential Sephardic Dish?

Minas, Meginas, and Maienas: The Quintessential Sephardic Dish?
Through my Passover research I came across the concept of a layered matzah pie that is very popular in the Sephardic communities of Turkey and parts of Greece, but not something that I was not at all familiar with in ...

Minestra Dayenu: It should have been enough.

Minestra Dayenu: It should have been enough.
When I first read about this traditional Italian Passover soup it was really the name that captured my attention. (What a great name!) It conveyed that it was both a filling Italian soup, as well as one sufficient for Passover ...

My Passover blog is finally up and running!

My Passover blog is finally up and running!
I have to be honest and say that for a full two years I have been wanting to write a blog that had something to do with my love for food. But what specifically? Every day on my to-do list ...

My Roadtrip to Regostan, Queens

My Roadtrip to Regostan, Queens
One sunny Sunday morning in late August, I ventured out to Queens to meet Amnun Kimyagarov, the author of "Classic Central Asian (Bukharian) Jewish Cuisine and Customs." (I learned about this book from a woman named Dahlia who I had ...

Now that Passover has Passed Over…

Now that Passover has Passed Over...
Other than Chanukah, Passover is without a doubt the busiest time of year for me professionally. During the month and a half leading up to this year's holiday life was good and busy. I taught several Passover cooking classes in ...

OUT with the OLD and in with the NEW: Time to throw out the old spices!

OUT with the OLD and in with the NEW: Time to throw out the old spices!
My students often ask me, "How long can I keep my spices?" This is a hard question to answer as throwing out your spices on a regular basis to replace with fresh ones can be very expensive. But one thing ...

Passover Cooking in December: Finding time to write and test the recipes.

Passover Cooking in December: Finding time to write and test the recipes.
As I complete the interview portion of my cookbook (with a total of nearly 85 interviews of individuals from 18 different countries!), I look forward to the next phase of finalizing the menu for each chapter/community, and then completing the ...

Passover images from around the world: A window in Paris

Passover images from around the world: A window in Paris
Photo by Lori Plaut ...

Passover images from around the world: Charoset Ice Cream in Israel

Passover images from around the world: Charoset Ice Cream in Israel
Photo by Alan Caplan: "Ben & Jerry's Charoset Ice Cream," Israel ...

Passover images from around the world: Dutch Matze

Passover images from around the world: Dutch Matze
My friend Sarah Abrams just returned from a trip to Holland and sent me this photo of matze in the supermarket. The packaging differs from our square boxes here in the U.S., and the matzahs there are round and appear much ...

Purim is over and the countdown has begun: Time to start that spring cleaning!

Purim is over and the countdown has begun: Time to start that spring cleaning!
Now that Purim has ended the official countdown to Passover has begun folks! This is the time when many Jews begin the step-by-step process of cleaning their house, or apartment (or even office) from top to bottom. Some might take ...

Round vs. Square: How do you take your matzah?

Round vs. Square: How do you take your matzah?
An interesting article was written Passover week in The New Yorker about Manischewitz and how they turned commercially made matzah into such a successful business year-round. One of the secrets? Turning the usual handmade circular matzah into a square! Read ...

Seder Plate Checklist: Are you set?

Seder Plate Checklist: Are you set?
Below is a list of all the necessary Seder foods, along with the variety of ingredients that individuals from all over the Middle East, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and parts of Africa have used on their Seder table: Z’roah (sacrificial lamb): ...
Jennifer Abadi | ARTICLES